..Robert Braun..

The History of Treadmills and Ellipticals
  There is more exercise equipment in New York than anywhere else. But how did it all start?

The first treadmill was built by cavemen with hides and round stones. We know this because an early form of treadmill was used in The Flintstones. Having nowhere to plug it in was clearly a disadvantage.

The first documented use of a treadmill was as a form of punishment in American prisons in the early 19th century. However, they did not really catch on until much later, some would say as self-imposed punishment. Doctors Bruce and Quinton at the University of Washington have been credited with the first use of treadmills for the diagnosis of lung disease in the early 1950s. Treadmills gradually spread from hospitals to health clubs to homes.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper published the blockbuster book, Aerobics in 1968. He not only invented the term aerobics, but raised the public awareness of the notion of preventive health through exercise. In the decades that followed, the public became more aware of the dangers of smoking and being overweight. Gyms that catered to such activities as tennis and swimming, added stationary bikes and then treadmills to their offerings.

Soon machines with moving stairs evolved into other kinds of steppers. The motions of cross country skiing were incorporated into a widely-marketed machine to simulate those movements. As the technology improved, the cost of machines declined to the point where it became affordable for consumers to buy their own for home use on a large scale.

It was not until the early 1990s that elliptical machines were invented.  This innovation improved on the ski machines by eliminating ropes and other moving parts that could be difficult to master.  Because elliptical machines work the muscles of both the upper and lower body while delivering an aerobic workout, they have become the fastest-growing category of exercise equipment.

Adding computer technology was not far behind. Various programs can now coach you through your workout and change settings on the machine as you go. This funny video shows how far it has gone.

Itıs difficult to imagine whatıs next. Maybe training your dinosaur to run on your treadmill to generate power.